Tents dot local hospital campuses in preparation for coronavirus rush
Local hospitals are erecting tents to prepare for an expected surge in patients with the coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19.
At Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center, staff members in a triage tent near the emergency room entrance are screening people for symptoms of COVID-19. The tent was built by a Torrance-based production firm that normally builds tents, staging and facilities for music, sports and dining events in Southern California and nationwide.
“It’s where those who are feeling ill can come in and get screened by trained professionals who are staffed inside the tent with necessary equipment,” said hospital spokeswoman Jessica Chen. “The staff is asking about recent travels and detailing symptoms and are implementing airborne isolation, if required, without delay.”
At Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, multiple tents are going up and down and up again as staff trains for a possible rush due to the coronavirus.
The tents would be used to assess the needs of non-coronavirus patients. Both of Hoag’s hospitals, in Newport and Irvine, have specialized interior wards where possible and confirmed coronavirus patients are to be placed, Hoag said. The Newport location has 434 total beds, while Irvine’s campus has 84.
“At both Newport Beach and Irvine campuses, Hoag has practiced popping up the surge tents as part of our emergency preparedness plan,” said Dr. Philip Robinson, Hoag’s medical director of infection prevention. “Although not needed yet, if Hoag were to experience a surge in patient volume, we will be ready.”
At Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach, a tent is set up for isolation of known or suspected coronavirus patients, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The Orange County Health Care Agency said Thursday that 115 people were in area hospitals with the coronavirus, with 47 of them in intensive care. That was a marked increase from Wednesday’s 67 hospitalized coronavirus patients, with 31 in intensive care.
Agency director Richard Sanchez told the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that medical centers in Orange County may be able to transfer non-coronavirus patients to the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship Mercy, which docked at the Port of Los Angeles last week and is taking patients to ease the strain on Los Angeles-area hospitals.
Additionally, the state has selected the vacant Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to house regional overflow hospital patients.
The facility in Costa Mesa will provide up to 1,100 overflow beds if area hospitals fill up with coronavirus patients during an expected surge in the next few weeks.
The state-owned Fairview would help relieve pressure on hospitals by taking up to 900 patients who are not infected with the virus but need other medical care. An additional 200 beds will be set aside for people with developmental disabilities.
The facility is expected to come online in mid- to late April.
Daily Pilot staff writers Lilly Nguyen and Faith E. Pinho contributed to this report.
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